Moving to a new city is exhilarating: you have endless opportunities, millions of new people to meet, and endless enthusiasm. Until, that is, the nerves set in. Yes, moving to a new city is exciting, but it’s also terrifying if you don’t know anyone. Even if you’ve been relocated for work or have a job lined up, actually adjusting to life when moving to a new city is a task that’s easier said than done.
Thankfully, this is the 21st Century, so you can explore your new home virtually before you get there, and learn tips and tricks to do it safely once you’ve arrived. There are entire websites dedicated to tiny neighborhoods, apps built to introduce you to potential friends, and nifty tools that will make sure you don’t get lost on the way home from work. And there are plenty of non-tech resources for learning your surroundings the old fashioned way, too.
If the new city nerves are setting in, check out these resources that are here to help you along the way:
Resources for Meeting People
One of the hardest parts of moving to a new city? You don’t have your trusty group of friends by your side. In fact, it’s pretty common that you’ll have no friends by your side–how could you, when you don’t know anyone here? Thankfully, there are a few easy ways to meet people in your new city.
Meetup is an essential item in your new-to-town toolkit. It lets you find a group that meets up near you for just about anything. Join a group that’s training for the local marathon together, make friends with the neighborhood geeks during their weekly TV trivia nights, learn a new language with fellow linguists, or hit up some game bars with other new to town techies. If you’re interested in it, chances are, a meetup group for it exists in your city, and it’s the perfect way to make new friends.
Making new friends is hard, but making a new best friend? That’s even harder. Thankfully, BumbleBFF aims to make it as simple as online dating. Their app works just like any dating app, but with a focus on friendship: fill out a profile, let the algorithm present you with matches, and get to know similar people through a messaging system that doesn’t involve giving out your phone number. The difference is the focus is on friendship, and everyone in here is interested in a genuine friendly connection. And in some cities, BumbleBFF host meetups to help connect you to your new online friends–an easy way to meet other new folks, just like you.
Make New Friends by Volunteering Locally
What issues are you passionate about? Politics? Animals? Homelessness? Religion? No matter what it is, there’s an opportunity to volunteer for it. Look up your local animal shelter, or aquarium, or temple, and see what they need help with. Not only will you meet people, you’ll find your schedule occupied with plenty of activities, fighting back the homesickness blues. To find tons of volunteer opportunities in one place, check out United Way.
Resources for Getting Around
Want to let everyone know you’re new to town? Pull out a map. Navigating your way in a new city can be tricky–especially if you’ll be using public transit–but getting to know your way around will be worth the effort.
Where on Earth would we be without Google Maps? Probably not at our destination, that’s for sure. This is your go-to for directions, but it’s also a great app for finding the best local restaurants, shops, coffee spots, and more. If your new city has tricky traffic, take a look at the red and green traffic lines on Google Maps throughout the day to spot the fastest way home like a true local.
Theoretically, Google Maps has the transit map for some cities. But does it know where the bikeshare stands are, how long it will take to find a Lyft, or what your backup option is if that late-night bus doesn’t make it? The Transit app does. Let this be your guide to getting around the same way all the locals do, and supplement with any city-local transit apps your new city offers.
Resources for Getting to Know Your Neighborhood
Getting to know your new city is a big project, so start small by focusing in on your neighborhood. It’s 2018, so your neighbors likely won’t bring you fresh baked goods or a casserole to say hi, but that doesn’t mean you can’t introduce yourself in other ways, both in-person and virtually.
If you haven’t decided where to live yet, start researching with Niche. This site compiles all the data you need not just about the city as a whole, but about each potential neighborhood, including reviews from residents, population density statistics, percentage breakdowns of how many people rent and how many people own homes, and crime statistics, arming you with the information you need to make an informed decision about which neighborhood you should call home.
Want to find out where the best coffee spot on the block is, but have no one to ask? NextDoor is here to solve the conundrum. Think of it as Facebook, but only for people in your neighborhood, verified by address to gatekeep any non-neighbors. It’s a great way to get localized recommendations and meet your neighbors without bringing baked goods to the house next door.
The Neighborhood Farmer’s Market
If you’re interested in local ecology or sustainable practices, your local farmer’s market is the best place to meet people who care about that, too. It’s also worth visiting if you want to learn about the local geography and weather. Just talking to the vendors will open your eyes to what you can expect–in terms of food and the elements–during your first year in a new place. And it’s not a bad place to get some delicious, eco-friendly food, either.
Read Your Local Blog
If it exists, there’s probably a blog for it–and if it’s a popular neighborhood, there’s definitely a blog for it. Your local neighborhood, town or city blog will get you caught up on the local politics (and the local drama). If there’s a forum, that’s also a great place to announce you’re new to town, and you’ll be sure to meet some friends that have their pulse on the neighborhood culture.
Resources for Making Professional Connections
Even if you’re lucky enough to have a job lined up in your new city (in which case, you should see if you can deduct your relocation expenses from your taxes), professional connections are still going to be key down the road. Building them before you even arrive can give you a head start on the job hunt, whether you’re conducting it now or two years from now.
You’re probably already on LinkedIn, so taking the moment to post a quick professional message along the lines of, “I’m relocating to ___, does anyone have any connections in the ___ industry there?” can start the process of building meaningful connections in your new city. If your connections don’t know anyone in the area, do some LinkedIn searching around companies you admire near your new home, and ask folks in relevant roles who work there if they’d like to grab coffee sometime.
Join Your Local Industry Group
These can be a bit more challenging to find, but local business clubs or networking groups can be a great place to identify folks working in your specific industry. Make sure to attend their events, and you’ll find that many of the companies with a presence there are always hiring–and it doesn’t hurt to start building that connection early.
Join Your Local Alumni Chapter
You poured a lot of time and energy (not to mention student loans) into your college degree, and though you may be moving away from the city where your alma mater is based, you can still use that college experience to your advantage. Check with your school’s alumni association to see if a local chapter exists in your new city, and if it doesn’t, consider starting one.
Resources for Making Your Move Easy
When you’re moving locally, it’s easy to get help moving from your family and friends who are willing to do some heavy lifting in exchange for beer and pizza. But in a city where you don’t know anyone? Not so much. And on top of the move itself, there’s finding your new place, changing all your billing addresses so your credit cards don’t get declined the day you’re putting down your security deposit, and keeping track of all the moving madness. Thankfully, there are services to help.
While Dolly Helpers don’t take payment in beer and pizza, they’ll bring their own truck and years of training and moving experience to take care of your heavy lifting. If you’re starting fresh, they also tackle store deliveries on-demand, so you can get your new mattress home the same day you buy it (no sleeping on the floor for the first night in your new apartment!). All the Helpers are local pickup truck owners, so they’re also great people to ask for intel on the neighborhood you’re now calling home while they take care of your heavy lifting at an affordable price.
Need to set up your utilities at your new place? Haven’t quite figured out how to forward your mail? Time to update your address for…just about everything? Enter Updater, a moving assistance app that lets you do all that and organize all your moving tasks in one place. With all your tedious tasks taken care of, you’ll have time to get out and explore your neighborhood–not sit at home waiting for the internet to get set up.
What started as a tool to let you know how walkable a neighborhood is (and if you can survive without a car there) has become the perfect place to find great spots in your neighborhood for…well, just about anything within walking distance. They also offer commute tips to help you decide between biking, walking, taking public transit, or driving (or some combination), helping you survive those first few days at your new job and beyond.
Living in a new city can be a challenge, but staying armed with the right resources can make it easier to focus on finding your place in your new home. Should you need any heavy lifting help before or after your move, don’t be afraid to call on Dolly–we’re here to help with small moves, store delivery, and more. Don’t ask new friends to help you bring home a couch–use Dolly instead, and treat your new friends to pizza anyway. They’ll thank you for it for years to come.
Miranda is the Marketing Coordinator at Dolly. She’s moved nine times in the past six years, and while she’s grateful for the moving expertise, she’s hoping she doesn’t need to move a tenth time anytime soon.